I lost God one cold morning in December as the doctor in the emergency room told me that my mother had just died on the table of a self inflicted gunshot wound. I was still trying to find Him when my father's friend, also the local undertaker, told me that he was also dead apparently at my mother's hand. He was fading from all reach by the time my aunt began insisted I tell my grandfather while she told my grandmother. By the day they were lowered into their graves I couldn't find Him at all. I never thought to ask why He had deserted me; I just took for granted that something I had done had offended Him so mightily that this was my punishment. When I sat in church after that day, I was hollow and sad. The saddness continued for a long time.Then, one day, I awoke to the knowledge that I was unworthy of God's notice and of his love. I knew for certain that terrible things would be visited upon me and that I deserved everything that happened to me. I was in Hell and that was where I was supposed to be.
I tried, over the years, to be a better person but I knew that I could not succeed. What I failed to understand was that even if I had been a bad person, which I was not, God would still have a place for me in his heart. I had been raised a Southern Baptist. I attended church every week searching for my answers. The words that came from the pulpit did not reach my heart. I was a lost sheep but I could not recognize my shephard. The words I heard should have gladdened my heart but they bounced off instead. Still, I tried.
After several years, I began seeing a man my family considered unsuitable. He was a good man but he was considerably older than I and he was married. His wife was living with another man(ironically, his friend) in another state but pretending that all was well. No one knew they were legally separated and had not lived together for many years. It was a bad situation and one that only seemed to make my situation worse. As family members disapproved and turned away from me, I found that I questioned my own actions and, yet, did not think they were wrong. My aunt went to the deacons of the church and ask that I be struck from membership. I received a letter that I was not to attend any more and thought that whatever the church stood for, it did not offer me a place or any hope. I was sad. I was without a church. I had always gone each Sunday (sick or well) and I felt a great hole in my heart. I made peace with myself but could not reconcile myself to God. Where was He and why had He deserted me? How could I be so much worse than the others in this world so full of sin?
At this time, my aunt began to have some troubles of her own. Her husband began to see other women and they were soon arguing about a divorce. Their daughter was in her early 30s and it was upsetting her a lot. Even though she was supposed to stay away from me, she often came to me for advice. We were all shocked when he died suddenly. It was then that secrets began to emerge faster than rats leaving a sinking ship. As it turned out, my moral aunt and uncle who totally disapproved of my interest in a man who was still legally married but not lliving with his wife (several years of mutual separation); my moral aunt who had me removed from the role of the church I had attended since I had been a baby; my moral aunt and uncle who had made their daughter get married because she became pregnant at 17; this woman who had preached and moralized at me and everyone else who would listen, had NEVER been married to the man who I had known as my uncle. Their daugher was illegitimate. They had made her marry a boy because of a mistake but THEY had never married. Both had been married to other people when they became involved and instead of getting divorces and making their union and child legal, they chose to lie for over 30 years and deceive the family and the community in which they lived. There was a court battle for inheritance and she was eventually ruled his common law wife and allowed to inherit the property and business she had helped to build. But the lie was there and had been lived. And yet, she moralized and demonized others for faults she had surpassed herself.
I was as shocked as any other person at the lie but especially upset that the woman who was supposed to be the matriarch of the family; supposed to love me; had judged me so harshly for MY sin and, yet, she was not without a similar sin. God seemed farther away than ever to me, Another lesson had been learned; no one could be trusted. Everyone lies and everyone has secrets that they do not want known. The Bible said "Judge not that ye be not judged". I immediately realized something I had never realized before: only God is without sin and only God can judge. I know, I had been taught that in Sunday School. I know. I had even taken many religion courses in college (so many that I even had a major in it). But I had never really understood. No one can judge another and be fair. "The mote in your eye" versus the "beam in another's".
Illness caused me to need family medical history at this time and I made another discovery. The woman I had thought was my mother; the woman who had shot and killed my father and herself, was NOT my birth mother. Another secret revealed. Another disappointment revealed. Another link with God broken. All those lies. All the years they had been told over and over and over. I had to know the answers and worked tirelessly to discoverwhat else might have been kept from me. Sure enough; there was more. I won't go into all that but suffice it to say that I had been lied to so much that I didn't even know who I was anymore.
The man I had been involved with and I were married after a few years in our relationship and have remained married for over 30 years. For years, we kept the information to ourselves. We saw no reason to tell people. After all, they disliked the relationship so much that they had cut me from their lives and I saw no reason to seek a reunion. Eventually, the infomation became public. The rift was deep by then and could not be overcome. I made an effort; even taking the blame for the rift. I sent each person a note "apologizing" for whatever I had done to offend them and offering an olive branch of peach. I knew at the time that it would not be accepted but felt that I needed make the effort in order for my mind and my heart to be at peace.
Several years passed and the woman who was my God mother became ill with breast cancer. I worked with her and visited her daily, weekly, tirelessly. She never gave up. Her belief in God had always inspired me to be a better person and her belief that God would help her through this trying time was something to behold. As she became extremely ill, after two years, and was nearing death I noticed that the pastor of the local church of which she had been a member for eighty years, had stopped visiting her. At a time when she needed pastoral counseling the most, she was without a shepherd. As I watched her struggle with the difference between religion and faith i realized that God is everywhere if you only have the faith to believe. God was with her everyday. As she often asked her friends and family to pray with her, there was no doubt that God was listening to every word.
I realized that I had not ever lost God. I had merely stopped believing that He was there. I had stopped listening. I opened my heart and it filled with HIs voice. It said "I have never deserted you; I was always there." I had found God again.